Rob Morris | February 2, 2011
Trawlers at Oregon Inlet Thursday. (Voice photo)
State officials spotted 251 dead fish off Oregon Inlet and on the beach at Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge Thursday as the commercial season for striped bass reopened for two days under new rules meant to reduce losses.
More fish might be found in the surf and along beaches Friday morning, a spokeswoman for the state Division of Marine Fisheries said.
Its choppy out there, so we dont know whats washing ashore, said the DMFs Patricia Smith.
Attention has been focused on commercial fishing off the Outer Banks since a large kill was documented by recreational anglers and circulated on the Internet last month.
The ensuing uproar led to changing daily catch limits from 50 fish to 2,000 pounds. The new rule also allowed offloading excess catches to other properly licensed boats.
It was aimed at reducing waste and discouraging high grading, the practice of discarding legal fish for larger ones to maximize poundage within limits that had been based on numbers. It was the first time the rule had been changed in 15 years.
Smith said the fisheries agency sent a plane to investigate after receiving a call about the dead fish. Officials counted 200 offshore. Marine patrol officers found another 41 along a four-mile stretch of Pea Island and 10 were in the surf, Smith said.
It was not known if any one trawler was the source, but Smith said it appeared the dead fish were the byproduct of culling. Of the 41 fish on the beach, 24 were under the legal size of 28 inches, she said.
Culling is a part of any fishing operation, she said.
Also not known was whether the number of dead fish would be considered within reason for culling when numerous trawlers are just offshore. At mid-afternoon, at least four trawlers could be seen around Oregon Inlet.
An overloaded fishing net was the apparent source of hundreds of striped bass seen dead in the ocean off the Dare County coast last month.
The captain of the trawler Jamie Lynn estimated that 3,000 to 4,000 fish were released from the net because it was too heavy to bring onto the boat, the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries said in a statement.
Marine fisheries issues proclamations for a limited number of days for fishing. Additional proclamations can be issued until the state reaches an annual quota.
From the Oregon Inlet website
STATE RECORD STRIPER CAUGHT BY 12 YEAR OLD STEPHEN FURLOUGH OF ROPER, NC. Stephen caught a 63 lb striped bass just off of Oregon Inlet this afternoon. Previous state record was 62 pounds. Filling out the paperwork for the state to confirm this beautiful fish. This whopper fish was caught on the Rigged Up.
After sitting around and waiting for the ocean water to cool down, I decided it was time to go looking for some Rockfish. We headed out of Oregon Inlet against a light 2-3 ft chop and headed north. While watching the sonar, we made several stops over bait, but never saw any fish marks. After a 35 mile run to the north, we finally came across the mother load. In 50ft of water , I marked bait starting at 10ft and all the way to the bottom. I noticed a few fish marks mixed in with the baits, so the trolling gear went out. I troll a mixed bad of parachutes in green and white. I usually troll a double rig off a three way swivel. The Stripers were hitting both colors and we fished in 40-50ft, trolling about 3-4 knots. All the fish were in the 30lb class. Call or shoot me an email if you want to go fishing. Thanks, Capt. Ray
Thanks to NC Sportsman magazine support, our team, NC Sportsman made it to the SKA nationals in the 23ft & under class.Team members Raymond Pugh & Brian Bracey of the Outer Banks and Tony Ross of Beaufort,NC, fished in 4-8 ft. seas on the final day 70 miles off Biloxi,MS and caught two fish for 62lbs.That was the worst fishing weather I've ever had my Sea King boat in and it handled it fine. I can't wait until next season. Photos are King's that we caught earlier in the week pre-fishing.
Thanks, Capt. Raymond